Sony, other firms team up to develop organic displays


Sony Corp. and nine other domestic companies have decided to jointly develop — with government support — technology by 2013 to mass produce large energy-efficient organic flat-panel screens.

The project coordinated by the quasigovernmental New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, or NEDO, aims to boost Japanese companies’ competitiveness in the organic electroluminescence (EL) panel market, where they are waging an intense battle with South Korean rivals, including Samsung Electronics Co.

The flat-panel TV market is now dominated by liquid crystal and plasma displays, but electronics makers around the world are racing to develop slimmer, lighter and larger screens, and huge development costs are weighing down Japanese makers.

Under the five-year project, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will provide about ¥700 million in yearly funding via NEDO.

The 10 companies joining the project include Sony, Sharp Corp., Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology Co. — a joint venture between Toshiba Corp. and Matsushita Industrial Co. — and Sumitomo Chemical Co.

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, a quasi-government research center better known as AIST, is also taking part.

The project will get under way next month at the latest, NEDO said Thursday.

By March 2013, the companies hope to have technology that will allow them to mass produce 40-inch or larger organic EL panels. But NEDO said actual mass production will likely take another three to five years to get started once the technology is developed.

Organic EL panels are a prime goal because they are lighter, consume less electricity, and render images faster, NEDO said.

“Global warming is one of the most important issues that the whole world has to deal with urgently, and innovative technology is necessary to harmonize socioeconomic activities and global environments,” NEDO said in a statement.

Sony introduced the world’s first organic electroluminescent TV in Japan last December. The 11-inch model, 3 mm thick and weighing 2 kg, hit the market with a proposed retail price of ¥200,000.

Unlike liquid crystal and plasma displays, which require backlighting, organic EL displays produce their own light, which allows them to be made thinner and provide better image quality than conventional LCD and plasma panels, experts say.